Friday, April 5, 2013

Where Your New Friends Are

It’s barely one month away from four years since the last time I kissed my sweet wife.  Without my intent and certainly without my permission, the sharp memories of the weeks leading up to that kiss have been invading my thoughts relentlessly: the cough, the desperate call to our doctor, hospice, the last trip to MD Anderson, friends everywhere, the moment that time stood still, then emptiness.  Looking back on these past four years plus the 850 days we spent dealing with the illness, it feels like I’m looking back on a lifetime.

I’m surprised at how much my recollections of those indelible moments hurt, despite all the hard-won emotional mileage.  The pain is not as sharp as it used to be.  But most importantly, and superseding any pain, I know I’m not alone in my hurt, no matter how dark the cave of loneliness may seem.  There are others – many others – who walk the same path as me.  Numerous lovers have come before me and many heartbroken souls follow now in my footsteps.  We are many, we are still in love and we are hurting.  But we are not alone.  For the suffering soul, knowing that simple fact is magic.

On Friday, August 12, 2011, I was welcomed into a new family – a family I already belonged to but just didn’t realize it.  On that day, I walked into a room filled with widows and widowers who knew and were living the same life I was living.  There were tears.  There was understanding.  There was laughing.  And, best of all, there was acceptance – no judging, no averting eyes, no blames, no sad looks, no avoidance – just acceptance.  On January 5, 2007 Maggie and me – our lives - were knocked off balance.  On August 12, 2011 my life was tipped back toward center.  Camp Widow and the people I met there changed my life.

Two weeks from now, a wonderful group of widows and widowers will descend on Myrtle Beach. There will be tears, laughter, drinking and merriment.  Best of all, there will be compassion and understanding.  If you have lost your companion – married or not – you should be there.  There, you will find more healing than you’ll find in 20 years on your own.  There, you will find friends who understand you more than you can understand yourself.  There, you’ll find that you’re not alone.  There you will find a new beginning.


  1. "We are many, we are still in love and we are hurting." - <3

  2. Your post put a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. If I could hold my husband one more time, I would gladly give my life for it. I will be at Camp Widow in two weeks for the first time and I believe there will be some healing..if not a lot of new friends will be made..friends that "get it".

    1. You will be so happy you've gone. I promise.

      If you only knew how many tears I cried writing this.....

  3. beautiful post. I went to Camp for the first time 3 years after my husband died. It was the first time in that entire time where I felt totally relaxed, where no one was judging me - for being too sad, not sad enough, moving on too quickly, not moving on at all etc. I tell everyone since that it was the best thing I had done for myself since he died. And it still is, I've been to west twice and east last year, and heading back to east this year - can't wait to feel like I am "home"!

  4. "We are many, we are still in love and we are hurting. But we are not alone." So true - and that last sentence is so very important.

    That August 2011 camp was my first, too (11 months after loss), and I've been at each one since. I get refueled there. I meet old and new friends there. I can share my feelings there. I am not alone there.

  5. Thank you so much for your post. While I have not had the opportunity to attend Camp Widow, I'm thankful for Widowed Village. Also thank you for acknowledging those of us who were not married to our loved one at the time of his/her passing.

  6. Sweet Chris,
    So glad I walked up to you on August 12, 2011 and told you what your Widow's Voice blog had given me...the hope and knowledge that another person "out there" was grieving the loss of a beautiful soulmate. And then experiencing my first Camp Widow weekend and finding so many others in our shoes was truly the springboard toward healing in a way I never before thought possible. Thank YOU for being there and thank ALL at Camp and at SSLF for giving me and so many Hope.

  7. Chris,

    I will be attending CWE this year as well. I lost my soulmate of 38+ yrs. on May 4, 2012 (CNS NonHodgkins Lymphoma brain tumor). I honestly don't know where I'd be at this point in my life had I not searched online and found SSLF and Widowed Village. I so look forward to meeting those of you who have so willingly contributed your innermost thoughts and feelings, as well as making new friends. Thanks again to all!


  8. Im one of the new writers here (Fridays), and I will also be at Camp Widow next week, doing a comedy/grief workshop presentation. Great blogpost, and I look forward to meeting you as part of this new family!